Starvation tactic in Madaya can be war crime, UN says

UN spokesman announces that Assad regime starvation tactics can intentionally be war crime in Madaya as it imposes blockade of cities to starve civilians

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Muslims from Lebanon gather at the Masnaa crossing on the Lebanon-Syria border blocking the road leading to Damascus in protest to the ongoing besiege imposed on the Syrian town of Madaya, on January 8, 2016

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that the Assad regime starvation tactics in Madaya could be considered a war crime as it imposed a blockade over cities to starve civilians to death.

“It is clear that the intentional starvation of people through blockades, barricades, siege could very well constitute a war crime. This is exactly what we're seeing in various parts of Syria today,” said Dujarric during the daily press briefing.

He stated many aid convoys were going to Madaya, to Foah and Kafraya in the next days.

The spokesperson also criticised some parties that were in Syria with the aim of preventing the transfer of humanitarian aid to the civilians.

“We've seen in the past the parties involved… Various parties involved in this conflict not allow humanitarian aid to go through, and this… You know, this use of sieges as a tactic of war must stop.”

On Monday, vehicles from the Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived in Madaya from Damascus in which thousands of civilians have been starving to death because of a siege by Syrian regime forces.

Sajjad Malik, the UN refugee agency's chief in Damascus, said that there is a “very grim” atmosphere in Madaya. Because, “there is no life, the situation is horrible. There is no food, no light, no heating with low temperatures."

"There is no comparison in what we saw in Madaya."

UN aid chief officer, Stephen O’Brien made a statement on Monday that aid workers found at least 400 Syrians suffering from starvation, malnourishment and other sicknesses during a visit to a hospital in Madaya.

Meanwhile, nearly 300 civilians, mostly women and children, left the city and were then transferred to Assad regime-run temporary shelters.

According to the UN, the Syrian conflict, which will enter its fifth year in early 2016, has left more than 260,000 people dead and turned the country into the world's largest source of refugees and displaced persons.

Over eight million victims are internally displaced and about 4.4 million have fled the country since the conflict started.